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Expert predicts 1 billion drones in world by 2030

Expert predicts 1 billion drones in world by 2030 article image

Drones will become the most disruptive technology in human history, a US futurist predicts.

Thomas Frey says by the year 2030, there will be 1 billion drones in the world doing things people cannot yet imagine.

Drones are already being used for a wide variety of applications including parcel deliveries, monitoring reefs and agricultural land fighting climate change, supplying aid and medical supplies and even taking part in races.

But Mr Frey told the inaugural World of Drones Congress in Brisbane last week that the applications for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are limitless.

And we can expect to see a growing presence in cities of the future.

"In the future drones are going to have multiple capabilities, so let's not think of them as little flying cameras," he told the Congress.

"They can also roll on the ground, they can stick to the side of a building, float in the river, dive under water … they can climb a tree and attach themselves like a parasite to the side of a plane.

"A driverless car is a drone."

Future challenges

Mr Frey said he believed one day every city would have its own fleet of drones, ready to make tasks more efficient across areas like health, education, business, travel, and leisure.

He wrote a list of 192 uses just for flying drones, but acknowledged this future would not come with challenges.

"If we assume that someday over 50,000 drones will fly over Brisbane, what's the responsibility of that city?" he asked.

At the same Congress, Queensland University of Technology law professor Des Butler warned legislation governing privacy in Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT was still stuck in the 1970s.

"Our privacy laws are piecemeal collections of common laws and statute laws, none of which provides a perfect coverage for people's privacy," Mr Butler said.

He said instead of being dedicated to issues arising from drone use, current privacy law was a mixture of trespass, data protection and surveillance. 

Australia’s first drone strategy

To try and address the opportunities and regulatory challenges the growing drone industry presents, the Queensland Government has begun developing the Australia's first drone strategy.

At the congress QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called for ideas from industry stakeholders to help direct policy in the area.

"Your insights and input will also help to strengthen our strategy and ensure we maximise this industry's full and evolving potential," she said.

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